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'Let's be honest, some of these guys aren't proven': Ex-Crusader on All Blacks XV selections

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall has offered his view on the All Blacks XV as a player who experienced a similar plight to Super Rugby players like Chiefs winger Shaun Stevenson.


A New Zealand under-20 rep in 2013, Hall moved from the Blues to the Crusaders and played six seasons for the Christchurch club, winning six Super Rugby titles under Scott Robertson.

He was capped eight times for the Maori All Blacks but wasn’t given the chance to play for the All Blacks despite his domestic success with the Crusaders during his time in New Zealand.

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After 93 appearances for the Crusaders, he called time on his New Zealand career in 2022 and moved to Japan to take up a deal with the Shizuoka Blue Revs.

“Having this [All Blacks XV] team, it gives you a greater understanding of where you are in the scheme of things,” Hall told Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown.

“If you don’t make the All Blacks, you are probably thinking ‘am I fourth or fifth? Am I an injury away?’

“And to be honest, you don’t get a lot of communication from coaches or even from other people if you are in the reckoning.


“What you know now if you are not in the All Blacks XV, you are kind of being told that you are sixth or seventh.”

A number of selections in the All Blacks XV raised more questions than answers with a host of relatively inexperienced NPC players picked under the All Black brand without becoming established Super Rugby players yet.

Sowakula, capped by the All Blacks just months ago, wasn’t selected in either squad while form players in the NPC like Shaun Stevenson and Canterbury’s Tom Christie were also overlooked.

Hall said the danger now is that those overlooked have every incentive to end their New Zealand careers after learning how far down the pecking order they stand.


“Pita Gus Sowakula, Shaun Stevenson, DuPlessis Kirifi, Tom Christie, guys like that,” Hall said.

“Now I can understand Tom, he’s a bit younger, but you look at guys like Pita Gus and Stevenson, guys that have plying their trade for a really long time that can’t even get into the All Blacks XV now.”

“For me personally, it would give me an incentive to say ‘you know what, it’s my time to go’ because I’m not even ranked in the top five or six in the position.

“It’s difficult, let’s be honest, some of these guys that have been selected aren’t proven.

“They are not proven at Super Rugby level and have been selected as a development player.

“That’s no disrespect to the Crusaders boys that have been picked in that team, but a lot of those guys haven’t been proven at Super Rugby level or even Bunnings NPC for long periods of time.”


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neil 637 days ago

Frankly there are many omissions.

Pita Gus the most obvious. Peter umanga Jensen another.

Good enough for tests one day. Not good enough for 6th choice the next.

Pecos 639 days ago

Tana sacked Bryn & Razor rang him the next day. Six Super Rugby Championships later, thanks Tana.

Michael 639 days ago

Really interesting article - I must say since 2018 there has been a real inconsistency in the ABs consistent selection.

Remember 2018 when everyone wanted to give Richie a go at #10 - Hansen consisently left him out. Only starting the experiment with dual players in 2019. This meant Mo'unga went into RWC19 with less than 15 caps.

Remember 2020 when everyone wanted to give Jordie a go at #15 - Fozzie consisently played him on the wing. Earlier this year Fozzie said he didnt see Jordie as a #12 - but WOW what a performance

David 639 days ago

Well sadly Fosters the coach and uses players the players foster selected have hardly played rugby in the NPC where some of the better players are.

Doug 640 days ago

Sadly the blinkers come on , when selecting players look at the Irish Test series , people soon forget, this close to the World Cup .

Douglas 640 days ago

winnng team...winning ways!

JD Kiwi 640 days ago

Good on Hall for pointing this out. This is Ryan's first big mistake, imagine the howls of derision if Foster had picked a bunch of unproven Chiefs kids?

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Jon 4 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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